Mercedes Garcia

The Social Factory of the Sexed Body

"There were men women and those who by their clothes and appearance could be considered of any sex" (Article of "The wall" of May 10, 1872)

It would be difficult to talk about the construction of masculinity and femininity without taking into account a social and historical factory that produces sexed bodies.

So before asking about how societies produce masculinity and femininity, it seems necessary to ask a previous question: what is a sexed body? And I think that the way Western feminism and gender studies have responded has been the same as that of Beauvoir when he asserted that sex is a continuum that we have delimited and segmented into only two parts: male and female, but that we could have delimited in three or more parts - in this way we would have three or more sexes. This same idea was already beating in the social movement of women at the beginning of the 20th century, when a "third sex" was demanded that questioned the rigidity of the established images of femininity.

The sexuation of the world, the masculine / feminine binary sex, is the basic organizational structure of our societies. It is a system of construction of acceptable and unacceptable bodies, which also decides that they must be "feminine" and "masculine" to be recognizable. Thus, "femininity" is trapped in the social norm that in each historical epoch dictates what a female body must be, but on the other hand, individual resistances are generated against the constraint and oppression that this rule produces in social life. In fact, also at the beginning of the 20th conservative voices were raised against "women with short hair and men with long hair" who seemed to want to revoke the order of the sexes. "Femininity" is, in this sense, a political system of inferiorization, exclusion and control of women -which has as its counterpart "masculinity" as a system of domination and social promotion of men. But on the other hand resistances are generated against the straitjacket and oppression that in social life produces that norm, that is, it is about declassifying the sex / gender system, of deconstructing the sexuation system of the world.

Know more about Mercedes Expósito García

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